Do you have a favorite vendor that you work with? Some people like to call the vendor to place an order so they can chat with Sue and see which promotions are available. Others click their way to online orders utilizing an online portal or PIMS integration. No matter your ordering style, have you ever thought about the process after you place the order? How does your favorite vendor rank? We have compiled a list of some of the best veterinary product vendors that offer the most valuable services to customers like you. We focused on the following factors:
One of the services that we value the most in vendor billing systems is automation. Can your invoices be delivered automatically by email? Check out our blog post ‘No More Data Entry’ outlining the benefits of having vendors email your invoices directly into data extraction apps like Hubdoc, Dext, bill.com, and Plooto. Electronic invoicing can save you tons of time rather than manually retrieving invoices – or worse yet, receiving invoices by mail. Does the vendor offer autopay? Autopay is a great way to minimize the risk of human error in managing accounts payable, ensuring no invoices are lost, and all invoices are paid on time. It also saves a great deal of time spent manually paying invoices.
Along with automation, we also highly value accessibility and communication. For example, does the vendor provide an online portal? How easy is it to use? And can you set up users with different permissions? Different user permissions are a significant part of your internal controls process. How about their support? If you need help from a representative, how easily can you get ahold of them, and, let’s be honest, how helpful are they?
- AAHA Chart of Accounts Coding
An additional bonus value that we have identified is general ledger code establishment. Some vendors offer the application of general ledger codes. This means the vendor will place the account code directly on every line item on your invoice based on the AAHA Chart of accounts. It will also summarise it at the bottom; $978.00 for vaccines expenses and $234.23 for surgery expenses. No more going line by line on big invoices! This can save even more time on coding product invoices into your accounting software by identifying the applicable cost account per item and totaling the cost by account at the end of the invoice.
- Deferred Payment/New Veterinary Clinic Program
Do they offer startups and brand new veterinary business owners a delayed payment program without paying interest?
Below is a list of veterinary product vendors that we feel provide the most value via their automation, communication, and AAHA Chart of Accounts coding ability.
Amerisource Bergen – more commonly known as MWI Animal Health – sits at the top of our list. They offer a variety of services to automate your accounts payable process better. MWI invoices can be transmitted electronically to multiple email addresses, and statements can be set to paperless and sent to the email address you indicate. MWI also offers auto-pay by the invoice or by the statement, meaning payment will be automatically drawn at the time the invoice is created or monthly on the statement due date. The initial setup for autopay is a simple call to MWI support with the credit card or ACH information you wish to use.
In our experience, MWI support has been consistently easy to reach and exceptionally friendly and helpful. The vendor portal is easily accessible and user-friendly, allowing you to establish multiple forms of credit card and checking account payment information, quickly search and pay invoices and statements, and manage contact and payment information. They also offer GL codes either using your own design or the recommended AAHA Chart of Accounts. The GL codes section of the online vendor portal allows you to observe your total cost by account for the specified period. The GL code number is added beneath each line item on your invoices and totaled at the bottom of the invoice for easy coding. As a bonus, MWI offers new practice startup programs that allow new clinics to defer the payments on the often-large quantity of invoices required to get a new practice up and running. These programs can be beneficial by extending the due date and dividing up the cost of the hefty price tag associated with practice startup into the future when the clinic has become established and increased its revenue.
Patterson Veterinary Supply is another large-scale product vendor that offers valuable services to its customers. Like MWI, Patterson can transmit invoices electronically to your specified email address. Unfortunately, at this time, they are not able to electronically send statements (although they are working on adding that feature). However, you can retrieve statements via the web portal in PDF form. They also offer interactive statements that allow you to search for specific invoices within the statement, view invoices by month, view statement data, and export the statement as a PDF or CSV file. Patterson offers auto-pay via credit card or ACH by the invoice per order or by the statement on the 15th or 25th with easy setup through a quick call to their billing support line. Their support has is easily accessible as well as very friendly and helpful. Patterson’s online portal is also user-friendly and practical, allowing you to easily manage your contact and payment information, and quickly access and pay invoices and statements. The only challenge we have encountered regarding their online portal is distinguishing between your shipping customer number and your billing customer number. It is essential to know that when establishing access to your online portal, these two different account numbers will affect your online access. Creating your online account with your shipping customer number will give the user only access to online ordering, whereas creating your online account with your billing customer number will allow the user to access statements and make payments. Patterson also offers chart of account coding either by your own design, or the recommended AAHA Chart of Accounts, or the Patterson Veterinary University template. They also offer new practice startup programs that allow you to divide up the costs of your initial clinic invoices and extend the due dates. In conjunction with their new practice deferred payment plans, Patterson offers financing for large equipment purchases, further helping to spread out the cost of establishing a new clinic.
Some other practices essentially easy to work with are Covetrus, Elanco (formerly Bayer), Idexx Laboratories, Midwest Veterinary Supply, and Zoetis. These vendors offer electronic invoice transmission, while Elanco, Idexx, Midwest, and Zoetis offer a moderately easy auto-pay setup that requires you to fill out and sign a one-page request form. Zoetis also gives access to their EZ Pay Program, which provides you with a 1% discount on all purchases. Covetrus offers a basic form of GL codes that allows you to assign GL codes to historically purchased items manually. Midwest offers GL codes based on the AAHA Chart of Accounts that can be edited to suit your needs. Like MWI and Patterson, Midwest’s web portal includes a GL code section where you can view your costs by account for a specified period. However, unlike MWI and Patterson, Midwest establishes GL codes automatically, requiring no effort unless you wish to edit them. Customer service and support with these vendors are generally good; their online portals are typically easy to use and offer helpful access to invoices, statements, and account information management. However, I have found Covetrus’ web portal to be a bit clunky and more challenging to navigate.
A few honorable mentions include Boehringer Ingelheim and Heska. Heska has recently joined the vendors offering electronic invoice transmission, a welcome update from their former system of strictly mailed invoices with handwritten calculations of account balances after the supplies credit application. They also offer auto-pay, and their online portal is helpful and easy to use. Boehringer Ingelheim is a fantastic vendor that offers auto-pay by the statement, a user-friendly web portal, excellent support that is both helpful and friendly and even deferred billing due dates for new practices. In our opinion, the one thing preventing BI from joining the ranks of top-notch vendors is their inability to provide actual electronic invoice transmission. Their email only contains invoice and statement notifications, meaning you still have to retrieve the documents individually from the web portal manually.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which vendors deserve your business. Of course, factors such as pricing and relationships will also play a role in your decision-making process. We hope that identifying these valuable services and how these vendors provide them will assist you in making the best possible decision for you and your clinic.